As Comey Bolsters “Obstruction” Case, could Trump be Impeached?

By Jake Johnson, staff writer | (Commondreams.org) | – –

“Impeachment takes time but we need to start the process now. It’s time to call for impeachment hearings.”

On the heels of fired FBI Director James Comey’s “unprecedented” and “devastating” testimony on Thursday, in which he accused the White House of “lies” and said President Donald Trump exerted a “chilling effect” on the FBI’s Russia probe, calls for impeachment proceedings to begin have reached a fever pitch.

Comey’s testimony, declared Indivisible in a statement, “confirms that Donald Trump tried to obstruct justice. That is an impeachable offense. Impeachment takes time but we need to start the process now. It’s time to call for impeachment hearings.”

“[The Comey testimony] confirms that Donald Trump tried to obstruct justice. That is an impeachable offense.”
—Indivisible
MoveOn.org issued its own recommendation to the U.S. Congress, noting “it
is now clear that Trump’s effort to use the powers of the presidency to interfere with an ongoing investigation of whether, how, and why a foreign power tried unlawfully to undermine our electoral process is exactly the kind of fundamental abuse of power that the founders believed is an impeachable offense—a ‘High Crime or Misdemeanor’ under our Constitution.'”

On several occasions during Thursday’s hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Comey himself addressed the question of whether Trump abused the power of his office by expressing his “hope” that the FBI would end its investigation into the conduct of retired general and former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.

“I don’t think it’s for me to say whether the conversation I had with the president was an effort to obstruct,” he told Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC). “I took it as a very disturbing thing, very concerning. But that’s a conclusion I’m sure the special counsel will work toward, to try and understand what the intention was there and whether that’s an offense.”

While Comey expressed his belief that Trump’s comments on the Flynn investigation—which were allegedly made during a one-on-one dinner conversation with the former FBI director—amounted to “a direction,” Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID) questioned whether expressing “hope” for an outcome amounts to obstruction.

But analysts quickly shot down Risch’s argument, noting that the legal definition of obstruction of justice is not limited to an explicit order. As constitutional scholar at least two federal courts of appeals have found that ‘I hope’ statements, when spoken by a defendant with potential sway over the statement’s target, can constitute obstruction of justice.”

Hermel concluded:

None of this is to suggest that indictment or impeachment is imminent. What this does suggest is that Comey’s testimony—combined with Trump’s reported request that Coats intervene in the Flynn investigation, Coats’s nondenial of that report, and the president’s subsequent firing of the FBI chief—makes the case that Donald Trump committed obstruction of justice quite a bit more plausible than it was when the week began.

“The key question,” former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti concluded in an interview with CNN, “is whether the president acted with corrupt intent.”

A growing number of Americans, according to recent opinion surveys, believe that he did. A Washington Post/ABC poll published prior to Comey’s testimony found that 61 percent of the American public believes “Trump fired Comey to protect himself rather than for the good of the country.”

All of this—the arguments of lawmakers, legal scholars, and former prosecutors in conjunction with Comey’s account and surging public outrage—amounts to an overwhelming cumulative case in favor of initiating the impeachment process.

At the very least, argued Public Citizen in a statement released shortly following the Comey hearing, an independent commission should be established.

“The calls for answers have only become louder and the questions more urgent,” the statement noted. “We must better understand the potential interference by Russia in the 2016 presidential race and what collusion may have occurred between members of the Trump campaign and foreign nations. We also need to understand how and if the president’s foreign entanglements and conflicts are jeopardizing our nation’s security…and if the firing of Comey should be considered obstruction of justice in a criminal or constitutional sense.”

Via Commondreams.org

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

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Related video added by Juan Cole:

James Comey: Trump told ‘lies, plain and simple’ – BBC News

7 Responses

  1. IMPORTANT!

    Impeachment is NOT a judicial process, but is a political process where any time a president angers 218 congresspersons and 67 Senators, the two houses can throw a president out on his ear for ANY REASON or no reason at all besides they don’t like him.

    Right now republican philosophy is all about power – getting it and keeping it to benefit a few very rich people. They simply do NOT CARE about the USA and the 300 million minions that live in the USA.

    While trump is a major crook and is severely damaging the USA, he is not yet endangering republican power to screw the non-rich and enrich the wealthy, therefore he will not be impeached.

    Only when republicans feel they are in danger of losing power will they drive trump from office.

    Considering how many republicans still try to protect trump, it will be a long time before trump is gone and he will probably resign rather than get savaged every day by everyone with a way to savage him. Trump’s ego can take only so much battering before he will retreat claiming “victory.”

    • This will be their Vietnam War, the one that won’t go away and won’t be forgotten. Since we’re no longer a young or idealistic country, how do we make Trump the centerpiece of a broader critique of the American way of life, even an entryway towards leaving that way of life, the way Vietnam was for millions of baby boomers, the outrage that won’t go away?

      • Donald Trump – born in 1946 – was a baby boomer and a draft registrant during that era.

        “Trumpism” and “America First” will be here to stay and the “Trump Train” is already gearing up for the 2020 presidential election.

        Hours after assuming office Trump re-filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission authorizing his campaign to commence fundraising activities for a re-election bid and as of recently has collected over seven million dollars – including a successful recent campaign vent in Melbourne, Florida.

        Although his approval rating has dipped to 34% in the most recent polls – his constituency has enjoyed vast success. Ronna Romney McDaniel – an early Michigan supporter – became Republican National Committee chairperson.

        Other key anchors of his Michigan campaign team that engineered the upset in the Wolverine State on Election Day are moving forward:

        (A) Scott Hagerstrom – his Michigan campaign chairman – was appointed to the vice chairmanship of the Michigan Republican Party;

        (B) Lena Epstein, only 35, and vice-chairwoman of Trump’s Michigan campaign organization, announced her candidacy for the U.S. Senate against incumbent Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow and drew national attention.

        Trump is viewed by his constituency as an outsider coming under unfair media attack.

        • Don’t bet on it . . .

          Trump supporters, while very vocal, are actually a minuscule part of the USA electorate and they are going to be harmed the most by trump’s policies (although they will try to blame anything else).

          Trumps policies are so damaging to the USA he will probably get the thumping of his life if he chooses to run again.

          Personally, I expect trump to resign long before 2020 because he will be losing on so many fronts, his ego will not be able to handle it.

          If the republicans lose the house in 2018 trump will probably be impeached and removed from office (actually he will resign before he gets kicked out).

          The trump era is the “last gasp” of the economically dying rust belt and south. Over the next few years the major economic centers will forcibly take power away from the dying areas that have lots of land but very small populations.

  2. Why no comprehensive discussion re the requirement of “a corrupt intention” w.r,t, obstruction?

    • An excellent point.

      Trump’s opponents have only a very weak arguable case based upon an interpretation of COMEY’S VERSION of Trump’s words to him:

      (A) there is no “smoking gun” implicating Trump in criminal obstruction acts nor is there any allegation that he was involved in blatantly obstructive activity e.g. ordering intentional destruction of evidence;

      (B) as the Chief Executive, Donald Trump had the discretion to order the Department of Justice to close the investigation into Flynn;

      (C) also as Chief Executive, he had the discretion under the U.S. Constitution to grant a pardon or other form of executive clemency to Flynn if he so chose prior to any criminal charges being filed against Flynn;

      (D) given the fact that no known recording exists of the encounter, there is no way Comey would be able to recall the EXACT words Trump may have used, so the exact context may never be known to a legal certainty;

      (D) Comey’s credibility may be impeached given the fact that he was FIRED by Trump in a harsh manner and has every reason to shade or embellish his testimony to implicate Trump in criminal activity.

      It is also worth mentioning that the U.S. Department of Justice Inspector General has been asked to investigate, as a possible breach of law, Comey’s leak of information regarding Trump to a friend of his who is a professor at Columbia University.

      This is also the same James Comey who elected as FBI director to recommend that NO criminal indictment be sought against Hillary Clinton in the e-mail probe as a matter of prosecutorial discretion – which implies some kind of double standard being applied by Comey.

      That FBI e-mail probe eventually resulted in a Department of Justice prosecution of the husband of a formerclose aide to Hillary Clinton – ex-U.S. Congressman Anthony Weiner.

      Trump will likely emerge from Comey’s allegations unscathed as far as any Congressional investigation or impeachment action as the GOP leadership continues to stand by Trump.

      • READ my note above . . .

        Like many people with little to no understanding of the USA constitution, you assume that congress has to have a “reason” to impeach and remove the president, BUT

        That is NOT true.

        Although you try to discount Comey, in REALITY, he is far, far more credible than trump.

        As this plays out, trump will consistently lose and will have his ego battered daily.

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